[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
A handful of organizations are hosting “Up to Me AZ: A Day of Civic Action,” a downtown Phoenix event aimed at encouraging people to become involved in their communities, regardless of their political viewpoints or party affiliations.
The event, which is expected to attract several hundred participants, will offer people ways to become active in issues they care about. Sponsors include Arizona Town Hall, the Arizona Foundation for Women, the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council and the Center for the Future of Arizona.
“This isn’t about politics or age or background. This is really about finding commonality and ways to work together toward solutions,” said Tara Jackson, president of Arizona Town Hall. “There is a need all over the board for Arizonans to come together and talk to each other more.”
The independent nonprofit was founded in 1962 as a forum for education and exploration of topics considered critical to the state.
About 100 members of the local Girl Scout council are scheduled to attend the event. The Arizona Cactus-Pine Council represents more than 2,000 troops across the northern half of the state, including Phoenix, and has an active membership of 10,000 adult volunteers and 24,000 girls.
The hope is that those who attend will be inspired by adult women, and that the volunteers may gain ideas to take back to their troops and add to their portfolio of civic involvement projects.
“We as an organization stand for leadership and work to help develop leadership skills within girls. It’s very important that girls learn to be active in their community, and it’s important that they learn about civic action in general,” said CEO Tamara Woodbury.
Also at the event, the Arizona Foundation for Women will unveil the results of a statewide study.
“Our study shows that women in Arizona are doing better in some places, but need work in others,” said Jodi Liggett, the foundation’s chief operating officer. “But these statistics helps people think about things in context.”
As part of the day’s activities, the National Conference on Citizenship and the Center for the Future of Arizona plan to unveil the 2010 Civic Health Index, which measures indicators such as community involvement and participation in government. NCoC will provide the national outlook, to be released Sept. 17, and the center will present Arizona-specific data at the Sept. 23 event.
This is the inaugural year for Arizona’s index, according to Lattie Coor, president of the Center for the Future of Arizona.
The report, based on data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, will feature recommendations by both organizations on how to boost civic engagement.
“We are trying to create a foundation, an informed base by which we can all sit back and take a look at our civic health,” Coor said.
The published materials compare Arizona and state and national assessments. This is the fifth year of the Civic Health Index, which will include 13 states and two cities.
Other organizations will have booths and information available for people looking to become involved. A town hall discussion will be held during the afternoon.
While many women’s organizations are involved in the event, Jackson said it is open to everyone.
“The whole day is designed to help people get connected on issues they care about and take action,” she said.
[Source: The Daily Render] — Nikolas Schiller is a 28-year-old cartographer, consultant, digital artist, researcher, photographer, civil rights activist, and blogger living in Washington, D.C. Nikolas created this derivative map of downtown Phoenix. He liked the way the rooftop of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court creates a nice design around the center. To view additional map quilts of Phoenix, click here.
[Source: John Talton, Rogue Columnist] — Former Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton still thinks and writes about his old hometown, Phoenix. Upon returning to his current home from a recent visit and book signing tour in Arizona, Jon wrote the following blog post about the new downtown Phoenix Civic Space (in contrast to this other local blogger’s view):
“…Which brings me to the Floating Diaphragm. That’s what local wags have dubbed the “public art” project that is the signature of the new park on Central Avenue downtown between ASU and the Y. At night, it’s stunning. A floating purple dream. But, as with the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, this is something designed by someone with no knowledge of local conditions. After the first big monsoon, look for the diaphragm in your neighborhood — Gilbert would be appropriate, with its sex phobia and sex scandals.
The park — we’ll see. Phoenix is not good at civic spaces. It’s unclear if it will have enough shade and grass to be inviting year-round. And nobody can stop the creeping gravelization of the once-oasis central city. City Hall sets a terrible example. The old Willo House has been spiffed up as Hob Nobs. But it’s surrounded by gravel and a couple of fake palm trees — who wouldn’t want to be around that 140-dgree heat surface on a summer day? And there are more of them — the natives and long-timers agree the falls and springs have shrunk to a week or two, and winter is getting shorter (and it lacks the frosts that once kept the mosquito population in check). The central city needs lots of shade trees and grass, to offset the heat island effect. It is a much better water investment than new golf courses or more sprawl. Nobody’s listening. Almost: The Park Central Starbucks has made its outdoor space even more lush, shady, and comfy.
Back to the diaphragm. It’s definitely better than the “public art” you whiz by at Sky Harbor because it focuses a civic space, the kind of walkable, gathering places great cities have and Phoenix mostly lacks. Some art at the light-rail stations is quite well done. But, there’s a deadening sameness. My friend, the Famous Architect, likes to rib me, “Not everything old is good.” True enough. But not everything new is good, either. I’d love to see some classical statues and artwork downtown to, say, commemorate the heroic pioneer farmers, the heroic, displaced indigenous peoples, the heroic Mexican-Americans, the heroic African-Americans from this once very Southern town and the heroic Chinese-Americans. Just two or three would offer some contrast and variety, and, I suspect, unsophisticated oaf that I am, elevate and inspire more souls who communed with them. It would also give the lie, in visual form, to the newcomer lie that “there’s no history here.”
Another wish I won’t get. [Note: To read the full blog posting, click here.]
[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The opening of the 20-mile Metro light-rail system on Dec. 27 will coincide with one of the Valley’s biggest art openings in recent years: $6.3 million in sculptures, tiles, and other elements that adorn every station on the line. Some of the art is monumental, like the giant stone ring sculpture installed at Central Avenue and Camelback Road. Other pieces are more subtle, like the terrazzo floor at First Avenue and Jefferson Street that features an image of Sandra Day O’Connor, the former U.S. Supreme Court justice from Arizona. Taken together, though, they bring poetry to the prosaic world of mass transit. “The art helps to tell a story,” said Eric Iwersen, a Tempe planner who sat on the board that oversaw the art program. “It helps to set us apart from any other system in the world.”
The story that Metro’s art tries to tell is the story of the Valley. Across the line, pieces reflect the neighborhoods around them. A river-like canopy at Priest Drive and Washington Street in Tempe echoes the nearby Rio Salado. At Central and Indian School Road, glass panels set into the entryway feature historic photographs of the area. “It’s really about bringing the character of that community into the station so that we are a reflection of the community,” said Rick Simonetta, CEO of Metro light rail. More than two dozen artists from around the country contributed to the system’s aesthetic features, with about 40% of them Arizona natives. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]